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DP TAKEOVER!!!! Yeks!


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#1 Mitchell Yount

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Posted 06 October 2008 - 01:25 PM

Has your director of photography ever thought he/ she WAS THE DIRECTOR? Maybe its the name that gets them all excited? idk

MitchWhy
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#2 David Rakoczy

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Posted 06 October 2008 - 01:52 PM

First of all, change your screen name to your actual first and last name per Forum Rules.

Second, as a Dp.. I have taken over for Directors who had no clue. Not saying yours is the case... but as a DP I have done this many times... it was my job.
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#3 Mike Washlesky

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Posted 06 October 2008 - 04:19 PM

Has your director of photography ever thought he/ she WAS THE DIRECTOR? Maybe its the name that gets them all excited? idk

MitchWhy



guilty here...for same reason as David gave. Sometimes it boils down to experience and if the project will even be completed if the Director stays in charge.

Edited by Mike Washlesky, 06 October 2008 - 04:22 PM.

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#4 Paul Bruening

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Posted 06 October 2008 - 04:53 PM

Haven't taken over. But, I have had to take him into another room and quietly "put my foot down" on his take ratio. He was pushing the ratio over 20:1 and was going to destroy the schedule and budget. But, I took efforts to not foul the rank structure or harm the director's authority and group respect. You gotta protect the group's ability to function as a unit. When the DP takes over that can break down.

Actors taking over has been my worst experience. There's nothing that can fix that except firing them.
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#5 Michael LaVoie

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Posted 06 October 2008 - 04:55 PM

There's an art to this. It's got to be subtle. I've never "taken over" but I have offered up opinions on things more than I normally would when I've worked with people with less experience. But it's a delicate balance of offering solutions and allowing directors to make decisions based on your choices. Telling a director where the camera should go is the same as when a director gives an actor a line reading. It's lazy and or a desperate last ditch effort when all other communication has failed. Always try and make it seem like the director has made a decision. It can be a collaboration but the director always has the final word on it.
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#6 Mitchell Yount

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Posted 06 October 2008 - 05:17 PM

Thanks for all your opinions. And I changed my name OK!!?!? haha

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#7 Brian Rose

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Posted 06 October 2008 - 05:51 PM

It gets awful tricky. I worked on a shoot back in February that had a lot of problems: hackneyed script (one of those where the plot is carried in the dialogue, and all the characters have deeply symbolic names), weak acting, lack of focus. I avoided making any comments about things not related to the visuals, like the script or acting. But I did try to nudge the director along in terms of the look of the film. For example, for one particular dramatic shot, I suggested using a dolly to "zoom" in on the character. The director loved it...and then proceeded to ask to do it again for practically every other dramatic moment. I warned that using it too much would negate the overall effect, and come off as repetitious. She responded that it could be symbolic, or a recurring motif, and all that. She really didn't have an idea, and was fishing for a reason. I had to say, "Well, you could justify anything that way, but that doesn't suddenly make it work." It was harsh, but the point worked, and we reworked the subsequent shots. In this way I regard my role as the DP as a kind of advisor. While I'm there to help make the director's vision a reality, it is also important to be a realist, to explain what might work, and what wouldn't, and help them make the best creative decision based upon the information you've provided.

Best,
BR
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#8 Michael Collier

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Posted 06 October 2008 - 09:26 PM

I think Brian hit the nail on the head. We are advisors in all areas where art meets the technical. Sometimes you do have to carefully tread across the boarder and suggest things more forcefuly, but in the end we are advisors. They are the director and that position must be respected, even if the person has lost respect for boneheaded moves in the past. The end goal is not to be able to claim you saved the day, or it wouldn't be half the project without you, but to get the best product out while maintaining the traditional hierarchy. I think if it ever got to a point where I needed to 'take over' then I clearly misjudged the whole production team from the begining and might need to start thinking about recusing myself and finding a replacement for myself.

Thankfuly that has never happened that I have had to completely take over (I wouldn't want to). At most I find the weak areas of a director (usually they are self-admitted weak areas) and try and fill in as best I can, while allowing them to utilize their strenghts to guide what I do. Its always a first question in the interview/prepro. What are your weak points as it would relate to my job, and where is my time best spent (understanding that if I take over their weak points, it will give them more time to spend on their strengths.) Some directors are great with the mood, but need help with coverage. Some know their coverage really well but don't know lenses. Some know lenses but don't know light. Some are like Bergstrom and are bomb at everything so I just stand there point at things, mugging for the EPK photog.

That is usually the understanding I go into any project with. Its the best way to work. I feel like i am contributing, and not usurping an area a director would/should be strong at. Colaboration at its most efficient/productive.
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#9 Elsa Costa

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Posted 07 October 2008 - 11:42 PM

While there is a chance that the over-ambition is theirs, it very well could be yours. When one party completely succeeds in taking over a project, there is an imbalance of knowledge or personality somewhere. If it's knowledge, then you need to do some research so you can intelligently and calmly argue with the DP. If you feel that their judgements are off, you had better know exactly WHY they are off. And if it's strength of personality, then stand up for yourself and, again, calmly debate the DP instead of coming off as an egoist.
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#10 Mitchell Yount

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 08:19 AM

While there is a chance that the over-ambition is theirs, it very well could be yours. When one party completely succeeds in taking over a project, there is an imbalance of knowledge or personality somewhere. If it's knowledge, then you need to do some research so you can intelligently and calmly argue with the DP. If you feel that their judgements are off, you had better know exactly WHY they are off. And if it's strength of personality, then stand up for yourself and, again, calmly debate the DP instead of coming off as an egoist.


Thank you for the post. I agree.
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#11 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 03:09 PM

There are some "directors" who just ask for it.

A few years ago I worked with a very inexperienced "director" person who drank on set and wouldn't even call action or cut, let alone actually direct the actions, etc. Well, I had to do it because I just wanted to get through the day and never work with this person again. Someone has to fill the vacuum -so if a person is not prepared to perform a job as required or expected for whatever reason, someone else will. That was on an indie set, so there was no real authority to appeal to.

In Hollywood things are different. There is this notion, by indies mostly, that the director's authority is paramount on and off a movie set. Actually, the real center of power is the producer, particularly the executive producer and / or his / her representatives. The director and the DP -and anyone else on payroll for that matter- work for the producer. In the event of sustained discord, the UPM and the executive producer need to be notified immediately and grievances must be aired. Production then will make a decision based on its best interest. If the director needs to go, so be it, although it is the DP who usually goes first -unless production is already fed up with the director . . .

Edited by Saul Rodgar, 08 October 2008 - 03:13 PM.

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